Clinical, virologic, and immunologic follow-up of convalescent Ebola hemorrhagic fever patients and their household contacts, Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Commission de Lutte contre les Epidémies à Kikwit

J Infect Dis. 1999 Feb;179 Suppl 1:S28-35. doi: 10.1086/514318.


A cohort of convalescent Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) patients and their household contacts (HHCs) were studied prospectively to determine if convalescent body fluids contain Ebola virus and if secondary transmission occurs during convalescence. Twenty-nine EHF convalescents and 152 HHCs were monitored for up to 21 months. Blood specimens were obtained and symptom information was collected from convalescents and their HHCs; other body fluid specimens were also obtained from convalescents. Arthralgias and myalgia were reported significantly more often by convalescents than HHCs. Evidence of Ebola virus was detected by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in semen specimens up to 91 days after disease onset; however, these and all other non-blood body fluids tested negative by virus isolation. Among 81 initially antibody negative HHCs, none became antibody positive. Blood specimens of 5 HHCs not identified as EHF patients were initially antibody positive. No direct evidence of convalescent-to-HHC transmission of EHF was found, although the semen of convalescents may be infectious. The existence of initially antibody-positive HHCs suggests that mild cases of Ebola virus infection occurred and that the full extent of the EHF epidemic was probably underestimated.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Body Fluids / virology
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Ebolavirus / genetics
  • Ebolavirus / immunology
  • Ebolavirus / isolation & purification
  • Epidemiologic Factors
  • Female
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / immunology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / transmission
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Semen / virology
  • Time Factors


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • RNA, Viral